The great Focal Chora 826 which amp to pair it with bake-off!

bramski500

Novice Member
Let's do this! Seen the popularity of this award winning speaker, I am surprised there is not that much info online on which solid state amp to pair them with. They have a sensitiy of 91dB so they are easy to drive, but I need more tips for my situation. With Covid I can't audition at the moment and also, I don't trust the audioshop too much as they just want to sell you what they have in stock - the old "I have them at home too" story;) So here I am, looking at the interwebz for unbiased advice!

Here's my listening situation:
  • It's a fairly large, rectangular room: 11m x 7m, with high ceilings of 4m, while I am not looking to fill the room everywhere with a crazy loud volume (neighbors above won't appreciate), I do like a great stereo image or just enjoy the sound when not exactly in the sweet spot.
  • The speakers will be placed beside the tv which is not in the middle of the room (more into the corner - yes aware of bass issues to avoid). There is a rug and couch in the sweet spot. Floor is wooden.
  • I am looking at moderate/normal listening levels to ENJOY music, not for a constant critical listen. One of my main wishes is to have a really nice controlled but deep sound at normal levels, especially the bass while having that great imaging. BUT also to crank it all up once in a while (hence my fear 2x60W is too little? Or is that fear not needed with these high sensitivity speakers?)
* The speakers will be used 80% for music, 20%for tv/movie.
  • I listen to all kinds of different music, from lots of electronica (yes including techno, so plenty of rhythm), to piano music, ambient, rock, indie, even metal. But electronic music will make up most of it honestly. I am allergic to sharpness in speakers/music (yes I know Focal has a reputation of being clear;-)
  • I found that the large room kind of serves as a bass cabinet (I think), so that is why I like the freq response of the Focal Chora's to be pretty nice enough at 48Khz, to avoid boominess, if that makes sense.
  • I produce electronic music myself and have the Focal Alpha 65's which are 100Watt nearfield monitors with a 6.5 bassdriver. I mention this as I am worried about which Watt to hook the Focals up too, while they have a great sensitivity of 91dB, which I read is important to have when listening at lower levels of volume. I don't want an amp that only opens up the speakers at louder levels.
*Source will be mainly streaming (Spotify but will get Tidal too), so an all in one with a quality (or good enough) DAC would be cool but happy enough to settle for a seperate DAC if needed.

So whilst reading everything I could find online I narrowed down the search to the following shortlist, but ofcourse open to other suggestions. Budget is around EUR 1,500 for the amp, but willing to stretch the budget if the quality difference is worth it. From reviews and forums I think the consensus is that Focal as usual should not be paired with a "lean" integrated amp.

(all power below is at 8Ohm)

  • Marantz PM-7000N (2x60W - includes DAC and streamer) - 1100 EUR.
  • Maratntz PM-8006 (2x 70W + separate streamer NA6006 - all in 1600 EUR, or strech it with the NA8006 to 2000)
  • Hegel H95 (2x60W - includes streamer) - 1700 EUR - read they sound a little warm for Hegel (which is cool)
  • Hegel H120 (2x75W - includes streamer) - 2500 EUR way above budget - is the 15W extra worth it?
(Interesting to read about the insane dampening factor on the Hegels, does this matter for lower listening volumes?)
  • Yamaha AS-801 (2x100 W) (and add a streamer though there is a DAC built in?) - 1000 EUR (+streamer)
  • Yamaha R-N803D -900 EUR (2x100 W)
  • Yamaha AS-1200 -(2x90W) - all analogue so no streamer - 2000 EUR. Intrigued by this beast.

So there you have it. As said, I am worried about the Watts seen my nearfield Focal Alpha studio monitors are a 100 Watt each. Open to other suggestions more or less within budget. I know Naim is the sisterbrand of Focal but it's too expensive and I really think the Atom with 2x40 Watt is too little for the room as well as the Atom being something that might be not usable in say 10 years any longer? They are on sale now btw). I looked into the Peachtree Nova 150 as well, connecting an ipad with a cable would be cool, but i read they are too thin sounding. Not interested in tubes. I know above shortlist is all quite different (not even sure about the classes), but please do shoot if you feel anything else works fantastic for these budget Focals.

Many thanks for your comments, really appreciate it as I am lost in the swamp of amp pairing;-) (and yes, I realize auditioning them in my room will be the best solution, but for now I'm looking fwd to your comments or suggestions! THANK YOU!
 
Last edited:

Hawaiiguy61

Novice Member
I highly recommend an amp maker called Unison Research. They have both a tube line and a hybrid line. I have the Unison Research - Unico Primo 85 Watts rms, which is astounding hybrid amp. It actually won the first ever 6moons "amp of the year" award, that is a huge deal if you know 6moons. I have a pair of Focal 30th anniversary 826 W Prestige floorstanders and also the 807 W Prestige Bookshelves with stands. I run the floorstanders with the Unico Primo and my room is 24*20*8ft. The amp is Italian hand made and runs about $1200-2k used to new. They also have 3-4 models above that entry level, plus there strictly tube side. The Unico Primo runs pure Class: A on the output side and solid state before that so you really get best of both worlds and you get to tube roll all you want:) I just got a set of NOS USAF GE 6189 12au7WA military matched tubes for $49 which was crazy good as normally that's a single price on low end. Anyway, thought I'd put my word in, PS it is a slight warm sound if (50) is neutral it's 55-60 so works great with Focal tweeter ultra high clarity. I also run an Arcam Avr300 for my 807 Ws which is a fantastic av amp if you can find one.
Cheers
Hawaiiguy
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Just be aware that even though they are relatively sensitive at 91dB/W/m and nominally 8 ohms they do drop to 2.9ohms so an amp with a good power supply and a rating of approx. double the output between 8 and 4 ohm ratings and a decent damping factor would be worth looking for.
 

Hawaiiguy61

Novice Member
Let's do this! Seen the popularity of this award winning speaker, I am surprised there is not that much info online on which solid state amp to pair them with. They have a sensitiy of 91dB so they are easy to drive, but I need more tips for my situation. With Covid I can't audition at the moment and also, I don't trust the audioshop too much as they just want to sell you what they have in stock - the old "I have them at home too" story;) So here I am, looking at the interwebz for unbiased advice!

Here's my listening situation:
  • It's a fairly large, rectangular room: 11m x 7m, with high ceilings of 4m, while I am not looking to fill the room everywhere with a crazy loud volume (neighbors above won't appreciate), I do like a great stereo image or just enjoy the sound when not exactly in the sweet spot.
  • The speakers will be placed beside the tv which is not in the middle of the room (more into the corner - yes aware of bass issues to avoid). There is a rug and couch in the sweet spot. Floor is wooden.
  • I am looking at moderate/normal listening levels to ENJOY music, not for a constant critical listen. One of my main wishes is to have a really nice controlled but deep sound at normal levels, especially the bass while having that great imaging. BUT also to crank it all up once in a while (hence my fear 2x60W is too little? Or is that fear not needed with these high sensitivity speakers?)
* The speakers will be used 80% for music, 20%for tv/movie.
  • I listen to all kinds of different music, from lots of electronica (yes including techno, so plenty of rhythm), to piano music, ambient, rock, indie, even metal. But electronic music will make up most of it honestly. I am allergic to sharpness in speakers/music (yes I know Focal has a reputation of being clear;-)
  • I found that the large room kind of serves as a bass cabinet (I think), so that is why I like the freq response of the Focal Chora's to be pretty nice enough at 48Khz, to avoid boominess, if that makes sense.
  • I produce electronic music myself and have the Focal Alpha 65's which are 100Watt nearfield monitors with a 6.5 bassdriver. I mention this as I am worried about which Watt to hook the Focals up too, while they have a great sensitivity of 91dB, which I read is important to have when listening at lower levels of volume. I don't want an amp that only opens up the speakers at louder levels.
*Source will be mainly streaming (Spotify but will get Tidal too), so an all in one with a quality (or good enough) DAC would be cool but happy enough to settle for a seperate DAC if needed.

So whilst reading everything I could find online I narrowed down the search to the following shortlist, but ofcourse open to other suggestions. Budget is around EUR 1,500 for the amp, but willing to stretch the budget if the quality difference is worth it. From reviews and forums I think the consensus is that Focal as usual should not be paired with a "lean" integrated amp.

(all power below is at 8Ohm)

  • Marantz PM-7000N (2x60W - includes DAC and streamer) - 1100 EUR.
  • Maratntz PM-8006 (2x 70W + separate streamer NA6006 - all in 1600 EUR, or strech it with the NA8006 to 2000)
  • Hegel H95 (2x60W - includes streamer) - 1700 EUR - read they sound a little warm for Hegel (which is cool)
  • Hegel H120 (2x75W - includes streamer) - 2500 EUR way above budget - is the 15W extra worth it?
(Interesting to read about the insane dampening factor on the Hegels, does this matter for lower listening volumes?)
  • Yamaha AS-801 (2x100 W) (and add a streamer though there is a DAC built in?) - 1000 EUR (+streamer)
  • Yamaha R-N803D -900 EUR (2x100 W)
  • Yamaha AS-1200 -(2x90W) - all analogue so no streamer - 2000 EUR. Intrigued by this beast.

So there you have it. As said, I am worried about the Watts seen my nearfield Focal Alpha studio monitors are a 100 Watt each. Open to other suggestions more or less within budget. I know Naim is the sisterbrand of Focal but it's too expensive and I really think the Atom with 2x40 Watt is too little for the room as well as the Atom being something that might be not usable in say 10 years any longer? They are on sale now btw). I looked into the Peachtree Nova 150 as well, connecting an ipad with a cable would be cool, but i read they are too thin sounding. Not interested in tubes. I know above shortlist is all quite different (not even sure about the classes), but please do shoot if you feel anything else works fantastic for these budget Focals.

Many thanks for your comments, really appreciate it as I am lost in the swamp of amp pairing;-) (and yes, I realize auditioning them in my room will be the best solution, but for now I'm looking fwd to your comments or suggestions! THANK YOU!
I'd also recommend the entry level Hegel H90 or the Hegel Rost, two beautiful amps that Focal seems to use at there shows when not specifically tied to Naim, which is now partners with them. I read great reviews on the Naim Uniti and Novi Star, two integrated wonders that both have streaming builtin I believe. They are a bit more price wise and I have never heard them, just read reviews. Of all of these I'd do my best to listen to the Unison as I think you'll fall in love with the sound, I certainly did.
 

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